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Additional Book Information

Series: NYRB Classics
ISBN: 9780940322462
Pages: 576
Publication Date: August 31, 2000

Classic Crimes

by William Roughead, introduction by Lucy Sante


Dorothy Sayers called William Roughead "the best showman who ever stood before the door of the chamber of horrors," and his true crime stories, written in the early 1900s, are among the glories of the genre. Displaying a meticulous command of evidence and unerring dramatic flair, Roughead brings to life some of the most notorious crimes and extraordinary trials of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century England and Scotland. Utterly engrossing, these accounts of pre-meditated mayhem and miscarried justice also cast a powerful light on the evil that human beings, and human institutions, find both tempting to contemplate and all too easy to do.William Roughead, introduction by Luc Sante


Modern-day true crime could not exist without the writings of Roughead. . . His write-ups of the legal proceedings he attended and cases he researched, collected in this single volume, are infused with delight and brio, as well as bursts of outrage at obvious wrongs.
—Sarah Weinman, The Millions

Intelligence, skepticism, and a flair for old-fashioned storytelling.
— Joyce Carol Oates

Any murder enthusiast who has never read any of Roughead's sharp, wise, pawky accounts of British crimes will find [Classic Crimes] the best possible introduction to the man and his subject.
The San Francisco Chronicle

A volume which must henceforth be the cornerstone of any library of crime.
The New York Times